Get To Know You with Bill, a Principal Product Designer
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an architect. My mom used to clean houses for a living. Much to her chagrin, I would tag along during the summer months on jobs as she cleaned rich, fancy homes. I would thumb thru her client’s copies of Southern Living to look at the architectural house plans that were printed in each issue. I took drafting classes early in high school and can still sketch a beautiful floor plan in AutoCADD. But ultimately, my interest and ability in math was my demise. So, now I craft digital plans instead.
What is the best thing about being a product UX designer?
The best thing about being a product UX designer is that there are no guardrails. We are responsible for designing and creating products. With qualitative and quantitative data at our finger tips, we are more empowered than most to discover new ways to engage with our guests. Layer on top of that the amazing design, research and engineering talent we have on our UX team, and the possibilities are endless.
What is the hardest thing about being a product UX designer?
The hardest is balancing the simple vs. the sexy. By simple, I mean the work which is no frills, straightforward experience design. And by sexy, I mean the snazzy, eye-popping work that grabs the attention of colleagues and industry experts. The simple work often leads to engaging, metric driving experiences; but it may not be the talk of social media. Designers must find the balance, which isn’t always easy. If a designer can leverage the power of simple and reach of sexy, they can create something amazing.
What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career at Target so far?
The experience that is Target.com. I was a part of the small team who “went rogue”, stowed away in a room and started building what came to be the new Target.com. The audience and attention that the site gets today makes it more gratifying and rewarding.
What is your favorite thing about working at Target?
Our potential. That sounds cliché, so hear me out. We’re an inclusive, loved brand that’s been around the block. We’re grounded in marketing excellence, creative genius and merchandising distinction (amongst others). That, in and of itself, is something most strive for. Only recently have we begun to see the impact of including technology as a foundational pillar. The potential for our brand and, more importantly, our guests is great. And I believe all of us in design can have a direct impact on that potential.
What was the most exciting thing that happened this month?
You know when you work so hard at, what seems to be, a small task in the grand scheme of things? This often leads to that “What’s the point?” feeling. I had a breakthrough last week. I realized that, by taking services and capabilities (those “small tasks”) that already exist in our digital portfolio, we could combine them in a way that solved a real guest problem. And with it, a differentiated, industry leading experience. Now the fun work begins.
Who should every designer be reading/following right now?
Dann Petty. Most of his activity is on Twitter (@DannPetty). He’s generating and delivering content in new forms and finding ways to give back to the design community in the process.
Best career advice that you’ve received?
It’s a toss-up! A former boss once told me, “We’re not here to prove we’re qualified. That’s why we were hired. We’re here to mesh our qualifications and talents together. To learn how to work collaboratively and cohesively with one another.” And one of my favorites from a colleague was, “Why can’t you?”
Dogs or cats?
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard someone say, “Ugggh, I can’t stand dogs.” Cats on the other hand? I side with the majority on this one. Dogs.
What is your superpower?
I’m great at seeing opportunities everywhere. Let me explain. Anyone can solve problems, but when you can turn that problem-solving solution in to a growth opportunity, then you have something special. Here’s an example: You attended a concert last night. When your favorite song played, you probably grabbed your phone to capture a video. The video and audio quality isn’t great, but you’ve captured the moment. How might you solve the quality problem? You could get a better camera or you could purchase and download a live recording of the same song. But you’re missing out on an opportunity. You certainly weren’t the only person to record the concert. What if you were able to stitch your video together with other’s video of the same song at the same concert? Through enhanced video and audio mixing, you could create a quality, live recording of that song. The result is content which is valuable to you and many others. I’ve been told, the way my mind thinks, is unique. A superpower, if you will.
Anything else you want to say?
The opportunity to learn, grow and connect at Target is vast because of our size and culture. If time allows, I suggest others to take advantage of this. You can learn a lot.